Be honest, Husker fans, how many of you were just about ready to give up on Nebraska last night as the clock wound past 11 p.m. and NU trailed Missouri 12-0?
I weighed staying up way past my bedtime Thursday night, hoping the theretofore anemic Husker offense would find some success in the final quarter at Columbia, Mo., or giving up and retiring, having to rise early Friday to put together today's Sports pages.
Oh yeah, I'm dead tired this morning, but it was definitely well worth the few hours of sleep.
OK, loyal Husker fans, how late did you stay up Thursday night? Did you say "Game over" when Missouri took the 12-point lead into the fourth quarter, with the NU offense battling just to get a first down yet alone touchdowns? Or were you like yours truly, staying up late and hoping the Husker defense would perhaps come up with a big play to ignite the stagnant Nebraska offense?
I bet there were a long list of tired but happy NU fans all across the Cornhusker State Friday morning.
I bet many Husker fanatics were asking the question "What if?" while discussing their favorite Big Red team today. What if NU could have held on for a win at Virginia Tech a few weeks back instead of suffering the tough one-point loss? If that would have happened -- and it should have -- the Huskers would likely be looking at a Top 10 ranking next week after beating the previously-undefeated Tigers Thursday night.
Quarterback Zac Lee finally broke loose against Mizzou early in the fourth quarter, as Niles Paul broke loose down the middle of the wet Faurot Field turf in Columbia, and Lee dropped a perfect pass into Paul's waiting hands, and the swift NU receiver outran the Missouri defense for Nebraska's first sign of offense all game. That score seems to open the NU offensive floodgates (theretofore controlled by Mother Nature's steady rain showers that soaked both teams and their fans throughout Thursday's contest).
Lee connected on two more scoring tosses in the final period, squeezed around The Man Named Suh's big interception, as Nebraska's offense came alive to revive NU fans' hopes for the Huskers climb back to the top of the Big 12 Conference hierarchy.
How big was the Husker victory Thursday? First, the win ended a losing streak to the Tigers, a team that may be crawling to the top of Nebraska's main rival list. Second, it put NU in great position to become the team to beat in the Big 12 North. Those first two weekends in November just got much, much bigger for the Huskers (Oklahoma comes to Lincoln Nov. 7, and NU visits Kansas the following Saturday). Perhaps most important, the road win broke a Husker jinx of losing to ranked teams on the road.
Are Coach Bo's Huskers back? Time will tell. I still think Nebraska's best years are still to come, with a wealth of young, talented players on the roster. Any success NU enjoys this fall is gravy, with 2010 and 2011 being the seasons when Pelini's squad will take its rightful place back among the elite of the college football world. For me, there's no question at least 10 wins and a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game this season would be a great prelude to what I think will be two glorious seasons upcoming for our beloved Huskers.
Big game tonight ... A huge road game on tap tonight for the Bison football team. McCook opens district play at arch-rival Lexington tonight. This will be my first time experiencing the Bison-Minutemen rivalry up-close and personal.
One question the Bison need to answer tonight is, can Coach Gross' team find a potent passing attack? I'm betting the locals will find their offensive stride and top Lex, making my second Bison football debut more pleasant than last week's loss to Gering in my first varsity football experience at Weiland Field.
See you in Lex tonight!
Notes ... McCook cancelled the boys tennis meet with North Platte scheduled Thursday afternoon at the Senior High courts. Probably a good idea, as the weather was less than ideal for tennis (or any sport, for that matter), and the Bison set to compete at districts today at Lexington.
Speaking of not-so-good weather, the Bison girls battled tough conditions at the B-6 District softball tourney in Chadron Thursday evening.
Coach Jason Cochran's crew lost to Lexington, and the Bison girls need to win four straight today to qualify for state.
Don't forget GNAC cross-country at Heritage Hills today.